My Star Trek Episode: Vacation in Anarchy
“Captain’s Log, Star Date, 4231.6. We’re orbiting a planet which is exactly like earth in almost every way, except there is no government,” Kirk said, as he sat aboard the Star Ship Enterprise. “My objective is to beam down to observe a world in complete and total anarchy. Because of the extreme danger in the situation, I alone will beam down. Kirk out.”
Spock said, “Captain, I request permission to beam down with you.”
“Negative, Spock,” said Kirk, “The Federation gave us specific orders to see if a single human could survive on planet Anarchy for an entire . . . six months. We need you aboard the ship in case anything should . . . happen.”
“Very well, Captain,” said Spock. “Live Long, and Prosper.”
Out in the middle of a grassy field, Captain Kirk, commander of the Star Ship Enterprise appeared in a swirl of light. The planet looked Earth-like in every way, with green trees, and blue skies, and small animals gathering food for the winter.
“Something . . . must be wrong,” Kirk said to himself, “This can’t be Anarchy, can it?”
Kirk took his communicator out to speak to the ship, “Uhura, come in.”
“Yes commander,” said Lieutenant Uhura.
“Am I on the right . . . planet?”
“Yes commander, you beamed down successfully. We beamed you just outside the city, in case they were hostile. The city of Libertania is just to your north,” said Uhura.
“So it is, Kirk out.” Kirk snapped his communicator shut, and looked around. The city of Libertaina sparkled in the distance. Beaming towers of silver and gold lined the horizon, and a nearby highway whisked with futuristic cars. Kirk decided to go check out the highway, unsure if he would find a friend, or foe.
Instantly, a police car pulled over, and two officers got out of the car, and shouted to Kirk, “You there!”
Kirk put his hands up, “I am Commander James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise. I come in peace.”
“Peace eh?” said one of the officers, “That happens to be one of my favorite words.” The officers lowered their weapons and approached Kirk. “What are you doing all the way out here?”
“I want to see if the rumors are true. To see if this planet . . . is a barren wasteland of robbers, swindlers, and murderers fighting each other to the death.”
The officers laughed, “Heh heh, well, we’ve got our fair share of bad guys. But don’t worry. It’s perfectly safe here, provided you have insurance. In fact, we can take you to get some.”
“Insurance? Why would I need insurance?” said Captain Kirk.
“Why would you need insurance!?” said the first police man. “Why, to protect you from the very people you just mentioned. In a voluntary society, insurance is everything! Come with us, please, it will all make sense soon.”
Kirk agreed, and the three men walked to the police car. Just before getting in the car, Kirk noticed a symbol on the side of the car. An emblem of a blue shield with a red sash that said, Liberty Insurance Police Force.
“Wait a second,” said Kirk, as he closed the door from inside the police car. “You guys aren’t . . . part of the government?”
“No,” said the second cop, “There is no government on the planet of Anarchy. No, we’re a private police force. But, don’t worry. It will all make sense once you get to the city.”
The city was beautiful. Sky scrapers, houses, trees, gardens, and parks, with the smokey scent of barbecue ribs and freshly cut grass in the distance, which reminded Kirk that he’d been in space a little too long. Soon, the private police dropped Kirk off at the insurance company, and Kirk entered the building. A friendly insurance sales agent, walked up to Kirk with a smile. “Welcome, Kirk! Welcome!” he said, in a thick German-like accent. “I’m so glad you made it safely. Have a seat. My name is Hans. How was your trip?”
Kirk shook his hand, “Good, but . . . I’m a little confused,” he said, sitting down, “I thought that this planet would be more . . . dangerous.”
“Well – it is. I mean, it can be, IF you don’t have insurance. But, please, can I get you anything? Coffee? Mint?”
“No thanks,” said Kirk, sensing he was going to be given a sales pitch.
Hans got down to business. “There is no government in Anarchy. So everyone has to take care of themselves. No one will feed you, or clothe you, or keep you safe, except for YOU. Sometimes we have murders, and robberies. That’s why it’s so important that you buy insurance from us, today!”
“Why would I want insurance?” said Kirk. “I’ve got my insurance right here!” Kirk took out his phaser and pointed it in the air.
Hans smiled at the phaser, “Well, it’s your choice. But if you sign up with our company, we’ll insure you against all violent acts. If someone steals from you, we’ll pay for the damages. If someone attacks you, we’ll pay for the hospital. If someone kills you, we’ll pay the life insurance. We’ll even have private security guards to roam the neighborhood to insure that you’re safe.”
“What if you don’t have any money?” said Kirk, skeptical of the salesman. “Are the poor just left to die in the streets?”
“The poor benefit from our protection too,” said Hans, “After all, if we catch a criminal, that’s one less criminal to bother anyone else. But Kirk! I want to tell you about an amazing deal! For a limited time, we offer the first month free! This will give you time to get a job, and begin a payment plan. See, there are a lot of cheaper insurance companies around, but – just between you and me – we’re the best!” Hans winked at the captain.
Kirk put his phaser away, and leaned forward in his chair, “What’s the catch?”
Hans said, “Clever man. There’s always a catch! But it’s a small thing: If you initiate any violent acts against someone else’s will, then you will lose your insurance immediately.”
“Why?” Kirk asked.
“Because,” said the insurance agent, “Violence is expensive. We have all sorts of contracts with other insurance companies that bind us to pay for any violent acts you commit, so we simply can’t have you attacking people physically. Why, it’s bad for business!”
Kirk decided he needed help. He used his communicator to hail the ship, and explained the whole situation to Spock.
“Fascinating,” said Spock. “Yet, very logical. An entire society based on insurance. Without the guarantees of government, people purchase their own private guarantees.”
Kirk asked, “Do you recommend purchasing the insurance?”
“I do indeed,” said Spock. “I believe you should get the free trial insurance for a month, and then pay for the other five months, once you’ve found a job to pay for it.”
“Acknowledged. Kirk out,” said Captain Kirk, as he closed his communicator. “I’m in!”
Hans invited Kirk to sign on about 40 different dotted lines. All the different contracts just in case he got attacked by an alien Gorn, or if his house was robbed, or a thousand other scenarios . . . which private courts to use, and which arbitrators to use . . . the standard formalities.
“How long is your stay on Anarchy?” asked Hans, as Kirk finished signing the last contract.
“Six months,” said Kirk.
Hans said, “Well then, here’s a map. There are taxi’s just outside. Have a nice stay! And remember to mention us to your friends!”
Kirk thanked Hans, and searched for a place to live. He was amazed to find that everywhere he went, everyone asked to see his insurance card. The grocery store, the bar, the lake, even the street security. And when he flashed the Liberty Insurance card, people would smile and nod, as if they knew that it was the best insurance around.
“Kirk to Enterprise,” said the Captain, talking into his communicator. “Come in Spock.”
Spock said, “Yes, Captain?”
“I bought the insurance, and everyone, everywhere is checking it. Even the grocery store . . . checks my insurance . . . why is that?”
“Presumably because they want non-violent customers,” said Spock. “We can logically assume that doing so would lower their own insurance premiums.”
Kirk said, “But do they really need to check it every time? The movie theater? The parks?”
“Obviously, Captain,” said Spock. “Serving customers without insurance could be a huge liability on this planet. If even one violent act occurred on their premises, it could tarnish their safety record, and raise their costs. Captain, this planet is beginning to sound more logical than Vulcan.”
“Spock, sometimes I think every planet is more logical than Vulcan,” said Kirk, “But thank you for the analysis. Kirk out.”
In the first couple months, Kirk found a place to live, and even got a job washing aliens. He made a moderate income – more than enough to pay for the best insurance in town. As he walked on the street, he noticed that police men and women from all the different companies were all so polite and friendly. They treated him like a potential customer. But the most friendly of all was the Liberty Police Force.
“Top of the morning to you, Kirk! Are you happy with your service?” said the Liberty officer.
“Quite!” Kirk said. “It’s so nice around here, you might as well take a break at the doughnut shop.”
The officer shook his head, “No, I couldn’t do that. I’m on the lookout for criminals. By the way Kirk, do you own a gun?”
“No, but I do have a phaser. Why?” Kirk asked.
“Even better!” said the cop, “We encourage our customers to be armed in case of an emergency. If you pass our safety course, then you could qualify for a big discount on your bill. Here, take this flyer.”
Kirk took the flyer, which showed an alien in a James Bond style pose, with the heading “Liberty Gun Training Course”. Kirk called the Enterprise to explain the whole situation to Spock.
“Fascinating,” remarked Spock, “A society where the police encourage gun ownership. Presumably, the more insured people own guns, the safer the community, and the more money the insurance company saves in the long run. Truly astonishing, Captain.”
The next week, Kirk took the gun safety course. He demonstrated that he was an expert marksman, able to shoot an alien dummy from 50 feet away right between the eyes. He passed the safety course with flying colors, and even qualified for a free gun. After that, Kirk’s insurance dropped 15%.
For five months, things were looking pretty good for Captain Kirk. Then, one night, it happened. An alien Gorn snuck into Kirk’s rented cottage. The Gorn opened the window, slithering with his lizard like breath. Kirk was snoring, asleep in the bedroom. The Gorn disarmed the house alarms that the insurance company had Kirk install. He tip-toed to Kirk’s phaser, and pointed it directly at Kirk.
But Kirk woke up just in time to kick it out of the Gorn’s hands! The phaser went flying. Kirk and the Gorn wrestled until Kirk picked up the phaser, and shot, missing the Gorn, and vaporizing a lamp. Then the Gorn leaped out the window.
“Caught him!” Officer Block said, stunning the Gorn with a phaser. “Finally! Now I can get that bonus!”
The Gorn was put in handcuffs, and brought to a private jail. The Gorn’s insurance company met with Liberty Insurance, and agreed to bring the case to a private court. This court had a Triple A rating, and the judge was selected because he was known to be extremely fair in these types of cases.
“I decree,” the judge said, “That the Gorn loses his insurance.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” yelled the Gorn, in his native tongue. He was drug out by the court security, and brought to his residence. Because the streets were all private, no street security would let him on their property. The mall wouldn’t let him in without insurance. The theater wouldn’t let him in. Neither would the grocery store. And especially not the bank. The Gorn simply had nowhere to go.
“How am I supposed to eat?” wondered the Gorn, “I can’t get food. I can’t work. I can’t even leave my house. Savages!”
Then, a private company called Jail-Co stepped up to the plate. Jail-Co said, “We’ll give you food, water, and shelter, but you need to stay in our jail. For the next seven years, you’re going to work, work, work. You’ll be under constant watch, from all our security guards. You’ll mow lawns, clean toilets, and pick up garbage. You’re going to earn your stay here at Jail-Co.”
“What happens after seven years?” the Gorn asked in his language.
“If you have excellent behavior, then we’ll recommend you for temporary insurance.”
“Really?” the Gorn said, “You’ll do that for me?”
“No!” the Jail-Co agent said, “You’re doing it for you. It’s your choice to join our jail or not. You can stay in your house, which will be like a permanent jail anyways. Or you can join our jail, and work for us, and maybe one day, go back into society.”
The Gorn thought it over, and finally said, “No way. I’d rather starve than go to your lousy jail!”
“Have it your way,” said the Jail-Co agent, as he left.
On Captain Kirk’s last day on the planet of Anarchy, he paid a visit to the Gorn. With his translator, Kirk told the Gorn, “Don’t you know that you’ll never get insurance again? You can never leave this house. No one will ever want you on their property without insurance. You can’t even . . . go to the movies. You’ll just be stuck at home forever. You’re basically in a worse jail than Jail-Co. At least at Jail-Co, you could get paid, and you could earn your insurance back.”
The Gorn thought about it, “You know, maybe you’re right,” he said. Finally, he decided to call Jail-Co.
Kirk beamed up to the Enterprise in a flash of light. Everyone welcomed Kirk, after his six month stay. “It’s so good to be back,” he said, “But . . . Spock . . . do you think the Gorn will ever return to society again?”
“It is likely,” said Spock, “Gorns have shown themselves to be very civilized when they have something to gain from it. If he works hard for seven years, and maintains perfect behavior, he could be offered temporary insurance. And perhaps, after a few more years, he’ll be offered full coverage.”
“And if he remains violent?” asked Kirk.
Spock said, “Then he will remain in the jail system as long as he wishes. Or else, he will return to his house, never to be allowed into society again.”
“It’s too bad we have to leave,” said Kirk. “I was looking forward to learning more about a world without government.”
“Indeed,” said Spock. “It appears that Anarchy could very well provide more safety and freedom than all the alternatives that have been tried throughout the course of history.”
* Variations of a private law society are offered by many Austrian economists, including Murray Rothbard, Hans Hoppe, Walter Block, Robert Murphy, Samuel Konkin III, and Joseph Salerno. But it isn’t the only solution. Many other solutions have been proposed, and nobody really knows what would happen in a world without government. But the point is that there are many solutions to private law society, and in a free market, the best solutions would rise to the top. In that sense, a libertarian society could be a much safer world than the one we live in today.